Fail fast, fail hard

The honeymoon phase

This honeymoon phase in startup development is a time when anything is possible, but it can also be a big threat to any startup's viability, this is what I refer to as “ the bubble”. This positive atmosphere is absolutely vital to create an environment where ideas can thrive, but it is not representative of the “real world”. The bubble is a positive feedback loop, that prevents startup founders from market testing early, in some cases dismissing constructive feedback as criticism. Market testing is vital in early startup phases, the goal is to fail fast, make adjustments or pivot, and move on.

Failing early is key

It is rare, almost unheard of, to hit the mark, and make millions on your first idea. Market testing is vital to craft and sculpt your idea and business in a way that you will have a market to sell to. This is why aiming to fail fast and fail hard will save your business in the long run. Making adjustments while the investment (both time and money) is relatively low.

Kill your darlings — Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

Failing to kill your darlings is the most common mistake in any business. This happens when clear, measurable, and objective data meets emotional attachment. The more time, energy, and money you invest in an idea, the harder it becomes to kill, even when all the data shows it’s the best idea.

Gather data

As any business founder or leader, you have to be able to deal with a lot of uncertainty and you have to trust yourself. This seems directly opposed to aiming to fail fast, but it isn’t. Failing fast means gathering data and eliminating uncertainty. Tim Ferriss describes this process in his book The 4 hour work week, the title of which was actually created by doing market research.

Testing market interest and market fit can be done very cheaply using tools like Google ads and Facebook ads. These tools will allow you to target your intended market, serve them ads and send them to your landing page or website. These tools have turned market research from a multi-million dollar endeavor to a cheap early-use tool. The total cost of getting everything ready to start gathering data? About $100.

Setting goals and sticking to them

Gathering data can turn into a slippery slope. When do you have enough data to make a decision? The answer is never, and this can paralyze decision-making. An absolute must for any uncertain venture is to set goals. an example:

Rick has an idea to revolutionize the world. He looked into costs for market testing, production cost, and distribution and determined that he needs to sell at least 100 products before he makes a profit, this is the goal. Rick can now set up a dry run market test to see if there’s a market fit. Rick can do this by setting up a webshop that has a long lead time (to cover production and shipping time), set up a landing page with an email form, or implement other dry-run techniques.

Fail fast, adjust, keep going

Failing fast will ensure you have a market to sell to. Failing fast is scary, counter-intuitive, and can seem demotivating. It will always improve your skills and will enable you to succeed.

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash



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Huibert H

Huibert H

Huibert is an innovation engineer, prototyper, maker, 3D printing nerd. He thinks anyone can be an inventor with the right mix of attitude and time investment.